(Here’s what you can do.)
Stop us if this sounds familiar:
You’re a startup with a user-friendly mobile app. You offer great deals like $10 off, some items free of charge, or steep discounts on the next purchase to get people to use your app. And it works! Users are signing up and making purchases. All’s right with the world. But eventually the special offers and discounts run out, and your users seem to disappear with them.
Why does that happen?
Well, relationships are tricky. Especially the ones you have with your users. In personal relationships, people don’t just walk out if they are dissatisfied. But when it comes to mobile apps, even seemingly satisfied users seem to go MIA without any guilt pangs. And why? Because personal relationships ‘matter.’ By contrast, mobile apps don’t. So if you want to make your users stay engaged with your mobile app, make it matter.
That brings us to the next question.
How do you make your mobile app matter to your users?
Many mobile app development studios have dealt with such questions on their blogs. They will often tell you to improve the UI and UX of your app, offer loyalty programs, enable push notifications, use analytics, and so forth. While all of those are extremely important considerations, there is something which is even more important: the user themselves. Many app development companies spend very little time trying to understand the unique needs of your customers.
Remember: brands that are a reflection of the needs of their customers are the ones that matter. ‘Quick hacks’ and ‘6 simple tips’ will only get you so far. To truly matter, you have to think beyond pretty visuals and responsive code.
Do you really KNOW your customer?
So, before anything else, let’s try to understand your average user and what they expect from a mobile app. Unlike the brand loyalists of yesteryear, today’s consumers are variety seeking. They are tech savvy, aware of their options and determined to try new things. This tendency to seek variety becomes especially pronounced in the case of mobile apps.
- There is a great amount of variety in mobile apps: Even a category as niche as ‘food delivery’ is now saturated. Customers have no shortage of options; they keep switching between apps and love to try out anything that’s new. They can also use certain food delivery apps for company lunch orders and other food delivery apps for family dinners. The variety on the market allows users to choose the right mobile app for their particular context.
- There is little to no perceived difference between a lot of mobile apps: Continuing with the food delivery example, there are at least 10 popular meal delivery startups catering to the Bay Area alone. Apps like Postmates, Sprig, Bento, SpoonRocket, Caviar, Munchery, Good Eggs, Sakara Life, Jessie et Laurent, Three Stone Hearth, Din, and Sun Basket all deliver meals to SF and there are no remarkable differences between most of them.
- The brand trust is low: A newcomer/startup is always regarded with suspicion, until earning the customer’s trust. Since the feeling of security develops after a series of good interactions with a brand, customers don’t hesitate to switch at the slightest inconvenience. They have options, after all.
- The perceived risk of trying a new app is low: This is general consumer psychology. When it comes to buying a high-ticket item like a television or an iPhone, most people would flock to a trusted seller but not many would mind buying a movie ticket or a greeting card from a startup with a new mobile app.
After carefully analyzing the above reasons, you’ll see that your customer seeks variety for three primary reasons:
- Novelty/need for exclusivity
If you can satisfy all of their needs, chances are they will commit their allegiance to your brand over time. Here’s how to approach all three reasons.
Curiosity: How to Spring a Surprise on your Users
Engineer serendipity into your apps.
Imagine walking into a bar, spotting a girl in a red dress, and just when you offer to buy her a drink, the song Lady in Red starts playing on the bar’s sound system. The girl smiles at the coincidence. Only it’s not quite a coincidence. It was by design.
How can this level of serendipity extend to the app world? Apps can be programmed to send a push notification in contexts where it may be particularly useful for the user, increasing the chances of making it appear serendipitous. While most apps claim to be doing this, they don’t get the timing or the context right and instead of drowning the noise, they end up adding to it.
The biggest challenge in engineering serendipity is in compiling, analyzing and interpreting data from multiple devices. Using state-of-the-art technologies, we have been building context-aware apps and can help you make sense of the digital trail your user leaves behind.
Boredom: How to Avoid a Stale User Experience
Go easy – one at a time.
Predictability is boring. In order to keep the flame burning, you have to constantly reinvent yourself in your relationship. Similarly, if you want your users to stay engaged, you have to keep them guessing. If you go ahead and release all your features at the time of product launch, your users may stay busy for a week or two but once they’ve seen it all, they’ll quickly lose interest and drop off in search of something new. A better strategy is to follow Facebook’s lead. Or Twitter for that matter.
We all know that Twitter started out as a text-based platform, but in order to drive user engagement, it gradually kept adding media in the form of photos and videos. In June 2015, Twitter introduced its autoplay video, which allowed for the autoplay of rich media creatives in timelines across Twitter. Just four months later, they were back with ‘Moments’, where users could instantly see the best of Twitter. Soon after, before monotony could kick in, it introduced a richer media experience where users could display full images instead of cropped ones. Basically, with Twitter, the users never had a dull moment. And as a result, by the end of Q1’ 2016, Twitter had 310 million monthly active users compared to the 302 million monthly active users a year prior.
With years of experience under our belt, we have helped many businesses with phased rollouts of their app. We have helped them successfully transition from an MVP to a final product, with multiple exciting feature introductions interspersed throughout. We start with a small alpha release followed by a beta release and then move on to the final release after multiple iterations and improvements. This process ensures minimal chances of going wrong, and also ensures that the excitement stays intact for the existing users.
Novelty: How to Stand Tall and Apart
Do at least one thing better than all your competitors!
You could be that ecommerce app with the maximum number of payment options. If your users have their preferred method of payment available on your app (PayPal, credit card, debit or gift card, mobile wallet, Apple Pay), you could be scoring major brownie points with your users. You take care of their convenience and they give you their trust – that’s how it works.
Or simple and intuitive UX: that’s another area where you can score big. Customers hate long and complex checkout cycles. In fact, it is cited as the number one reason for abandonment of carts. The most overlooked (read: most annoying) aspect of the checkout process is the part which computes the total cost and shipping. Many ecommerce apps fail to display the total order cost – at any point during the checkout – before asking for credit card data. In other words, they force their users to type their entire address and provide payment details without giving them a good idea of how much they will be charged. Now, that is unforgivable.
If you want to differentiate yourself as the app with the easiest checkout experience, we can help you optimize your checkout process. Make it as simple as open, shop, done!
Take Control and Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations
Mobile app users defect for all sorts of reasons. While you cannot control an Act of God, you can certainly identify some common causes of failure and rectify them. Beware of people who tell you that there’s a magic formula to make that happen and that their one-size-fits-all solution is the answer you’re looking for. The real magic is in finding the right solution — the one tailored for your needs, for the needs of your users, for your app’s functionality and ultimately for your business.
We design mobile experiences that can engage and retain users. Want help with your app?